Telcos May Lose Licences over New SIM Card Registration Policy

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By Oghenevwede Ohwovoriole

Telecom operators, who fail to comply with the new SIM card registration policy may have their licences withdrawn, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC), has warned.

A statement issued by the Director, Public Affairs, NCC, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, said this was part of the decisions taken after an emergency stakeholders’ meeting.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, the statement said, has already set up a ministerial task force to monitor the implementation of the new registration policy of the federal government.

According to the NCC, from the decisions reached at the emergency stakeholders’ meetings, any telecoms operator in violation of the directive risks possible licence withdrawal.

Yesterday’s statement by the NCC said: “All SIMs without NINs are to be blocked from the networks. And that the violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence.”

“A Ministerial Task Force comprising the minister and all the CEOs (among others) as members is to monitor compliance by all networks.”

The federal government had on Tuesday directed all telecommunications companies to ensure that every SIM card in the country is tied to the National Identity Number (NIM) of their subscribers between December 16 and 30. 2020. SIM cards without NIN link are to be blocked at the expiration of the deadline.

The statement said: “Following the earlier directive on the suspension of new SIM registration by network operators, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami convened an urgent meeting of key stakeholders in the Communications industry on Monday, December 14, 2020.”

“The meeting had in attendance the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Management of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as well as the CEOs and Management staff of all service providers in the industry.”

The NCC said this was as a result of the conclusion reached by Pantami last Monday.

It added that “at the meeting, the need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve the performance and sanity of the sector was exhaustively discussed and all stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.”

According to the NCC, decisions were taken for immediate implementation by all network operators.

It noted that they include the “affirmation of the earlier directive to totally suspend registration of new SIMs by all operators, operators to require all their subscribers to provide valid National Identification Number (NIN) to update SIM registration records as well as the submission of NIN by subscribers to take place within two weeks (from December 16, 2020 to December 30, 2020).

Part of the decisions at the meeting, the NCC added, was an appeal to subscribers to ensure that their NINs are captured in their SIM registration data.